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Contact: Bridget Litten, 505.785.3024
Mark your calendars! The staff of Carlsbad Caverns National Park have set aside the last weekend in July for the 49th annual Bat Flight Breakfast and 2nd annual Celebration of the Night.
This year’s Celebration of the Night star party will begin the evening of July 28 and continue into the early morning hours of July 29. The Bat Flight Breakfast follows the star party, beginning at 5 a.m., Saturday morning.
Historically held the second Thursday in August, the park broke with tradition in 2005 and moved the breakfast to a Saturday in an effort to encourage more participation. This year, park staff moved both events to July and selected a weekend night optimal for night-sky viewing.
“If we had stayed with the second week in August, we would have had to contend with a nearly full Moon,” said Shannan Marcak, the star party’s coordinator. “Moving the star party to the end of July, just after the New Moon, will give us good night-sky viewing opportunities.”
Activities will begin on Friday, July 28, with the evening’s Bat Flight program, where visitors watch as an estimated 300,000 Mexican free-tailed bats exit Carlsbad Cavern in search of their favorite meal—insects! “We hope visitors will attend the Bat Flight program on Friday night, stay up for the star party, have a good breakfast and watch the bats fly back into the cave!” said breakfast coordinator Avelina Childress. “We can have over a thousand people watching the bats fly out of the cave each evening, but very few people experience the in-flight.”
The Bat Flight Breakfast began in the late 1950s as a way to encourage visitors to see the bats’ morning return flight. Before entering the cave in the morning, the bats circle several hundred feet overhead and then dive in clusters into the cave entrance. Unlike the shorter nighttime exodus out of the cave when the bats spiral up and leave the cave, the sunrise return to the cave normally spans several hours.
This year’s breakfast will include cereal; ham, turkey and cheese croissants; yogurt and fruit; and juice, milk and coffee. Breakfast is $7 for adults and $3 for children age 12 and under. The cost includes free entrance to the self-guided portions of Carlsbad Cavern.
The annual breakfast is sponsored by the Carlsbad Caverns Activity Association and Cavern Supply Company in cooperation with the National Park Service and the Carlsbad Caverns Guadalupe Mountains Association.
More detailed breakfast and star party information will be forthcoming in the next few months. For more information, contact Bridget Litten at 505.785.3024, or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/cave/.